October 8, 2018 / 8:49 AM / 9 days ago

EMERGING MARKETS-China stocks cast gloom over emerging markets; rand drops

* China central bank’s liquidity move can’t support local stocks

* South African rand weakens as finance minister asks to be sacked

* Jair Bolsonaro wins first round of Brazilian presidential vote

By Aaron Saldanha and Sruthi Shankar

Oct 8 (Reuters) - Emerging-market stocks hit 17-month lows on Monday as Shanghai’s main index resumed trading after a long holiday and mainland blue chips sank 4.3 percent on concern over growth and an intensifying trade row with the United States.

South African blue-chip stocks dropped to a six-month low on a report that Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene had asked President Cyril Ramaphosa to remove him.

A meeting of U.S. and Chinese diplomats got off to a frosty start with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Chinese Foreign Minister and State Councillor Wang Yi taking each other to task amid worsening bilateral relations.

A move on the weekend to cut the level of cash Chinese banks must hold as reserves, sending extra funds coursing through the economy, wasn’t enough to bolster sentiment.

The blue-chip CSI300 index posted its biggest daily decline in more than two and a half years.

“I’m not sure what we’re seeing now is the result of the moves in China,” said Cristian Maggio, head of emerging markets strategy at TD Securities. “China is probably at this moment doing a bit of a catch up. Last week wasn’t a good week for EM as a whole.”

South Africa’s rand weakened as much as 1.4 percent after a report that Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene had asked President Cyril Ramaphosa to sack him. Nene had admitted to visiting the home of the Gupta brothers, friends of scandal-plagued former leader Jacob Zuma.

“Whether he’s replaced or he continues in office, President Ramaphosa will make the decision based on what is more convenient in terms of external image of the government than the goals they are trying to achieve... the problem is currently being overstated by the market,” said TD Securities’ Maggio.

Nene had been under pressure to resign after his testimony at a corruption inquiry last week. Yields on South African sovereign bonds between two and 10-year maturities rose, while an index of local blue-chip stocks fell to its lowest since early April.

Brazilian assets looked set for a boost after far-right presidential candidate Jair Bolsanaro made a stronger-than- expected showing in Sunday’s first round of presidential elections. A Brazil-focused exchange-traded fund rose 6.2 percent to around four-and-a-half-month highs.

Privatisation-keen Bolsonaro, who was stabbed at a rally last month, won nearly half the votes in the first round, far ahead of the 29 percent his closest rival received but short of the outright majority needed to avoid a second round .

Turkey’s lira weakened 0.9 percent after the government eased its ban on using foreign currencies in business deals, including export-related contracts, capital market instruments and employment contracts involving foreigners.

Economists and industry participants doubted the move would have a permanent positive impact, saying it hampered predictability and was likely to bring additional burdens for firms with foreign currency debt.

For GRAPHIC on emerging market FX performance 2018, see tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh For GRAPHIC on MSCI emerging index performance 2018, see tmsnrt.rs/2OusNdX

For TOP NEWS across emerging markets

For CENTRAL EUROPE market report, see

For TURKISH market report, see

For RUSSIAN market report, see (Reporting by Aaron Saldanha in Bengaluru, editing by Larry King)

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